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October 20, 2014

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veterans day:

Las Vegas salutes veterans in downtown parade

Annual event draws thousands in support of military

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Alexis Gaskin, 9, holds a sign in support of her family while sitting with her grandfather, Doug Weens, as they watch the annual Veterans Day parade Wednesday in downtown Las Vegas. Weens’ son and son-in-law are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Day Parade - 2009

Veterans of the Las Vegas American Legion Post 8 salute to the crowd while riding in their float during the annual Veterans Day parade Wednesday in downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Veterans Day Parade

Veterans were just a few of the hundreds of people who participated in the parade, which spanned almost three hours and worked its way down Fourth Street from Gass Avenue to Stewart Avenue. More than 100 organizations took part in the event.

Many of the veterans in Wednesday’s downtown Las Vegas parade walked the route while others rode in floats or drove their motorcycles.

But for some veterans, the mile-long route was traversed in a wheelchair or special bicycle made for those scarred by war.

A number of organizations for veterans and their families participated in the annual parade, including some from other states. More than 100 organizations took part in the event.

Veterans were just a few of the hundreds of people who participated in the parade, which spanned almost three hours and worked its way down Fourth Street from Gass Avenue to Stewart Avenue.

There were boy and girl scouts, marching bands, current members of the military and hundreds of Junior ROTC cadets from local high schools.

Kathy Nicolai said seeing the cadets was the best part.

“It’s amazing the number of kids in the high school programs. The ROTC programs here are better than anywhere else in the country,” she said. “Whether those kids go into the military or not, they learn discipline and we need more of that.”

Nicolai watched the parade while standing on a curb near the main stage where groups would stop and salute wounded soldiers who watched the event.

Her husband, David Nicolai, served in the Navy in the 1960s and said even though Las Vegas isn’t normally associated with the military, it does a good job of supporting the troops on Veterans Day.

“It’s the best parade in the country,” he said. “With Nellis here, why not do it?”

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and his wife, Carolyn, walked at the beginning of the parade with the City Council and North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck.

“What a privilege it is for us to have this unbelievable parade honoring the men and women of our armed forces and telling them how much we appreciate the sacrifices they have made for us,” Mayor Goodman said.

Click to enlarge photo

Due to a leg injury, retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Bob Freeman, who has received many purple hearts, sits on a bench waiting to join the Chapter Military Order of Purple Hearts in their march in the Veterans Day parade Wednesday in downtown Las Vegas.

Luke Jackson walked in the parade with the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a leadership-training program for youth ages 11 to 17.

Jackson, who eventually wants to join the Navy or Marine Corps, said participating in the parade was a way to “show this country’s respect for the people who fight and die for it.”

The Navy program has made him appreciate veterans more than he did before, Jackson said.

“It showed me that the military is one of the most important aspects of our country,” he said. “It keeps our way of life in tact and allows us to do what we do on a daily basis.”

Glenn Suiter, who served in the 160th Armed Cavalry, said he was pleased with the parade’s turnout.

“What I think is incredible about it is all the locals and visitors who come here and support our troops,” he said.

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